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Teen Smoking Rates 'Aggravated' By E-Cigarettes, Study Says

E-cigarettes aren't stopping teens from smoking. Instead, they're actually helping them keep the habit.

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A help-smoking device? Shutterstock

By Bryan Le

03/07/14

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Both e-cigarette companies and users have touted vaping as a healthy alternative to smoking that could help people quit, but according to a new study the exact opposite is happening for U.S. teens.

According to research from 2011 and 2012, fifty percent of teen e-cigarette users were also current smokers, which was defined as using at least 100 cigarettes in a month. A survey of teens found that adolescents using e-cigarettes were more likely to have experimented with traditional cigarettes than teens that did not use e-cigarettes.

Not only are e-cigarettes being used by teens who smoke anyway, but teens who vape are also less likely to quit smoking regular tobacco. Teens who reported having used at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime were 40 percent less likely to quit smoking for 30 days.

"These results suggest that e-cigarette use is aggravating, rather than ameliorating, the tobacco epidemic among youths," the researchers wrote in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

Unfortunately, due to the time frame in which the researchers polled the teens, the researchers were unable to discern whether the subjects started with tobacco or electronic cigarettes first, and therefore were not able to determine if e-cigarettes acted as a gateway or vice versa. Either way, researchers concluded that "e-cigarettes may contribute to nicotine addiction and are unlikely to discourage conventional cigarette smoking among youths."

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